The Apple G4 Cube Turns 10

August 12th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

10th Anniversary of the G4 Cube at

Ten years ago this month, Apple shipped the Power Mac G4 Cube, a unique computer that fared poorly in the marketplace but captured the imaginations of many computer enthusiasts. Naturally, I warmed up my dexterous typing fingers and wrote something about this anniversary. Well, two somethings, in fact, and they’re both up on today.

The first, “The Cube at 10: Why Apple’s Eye-Catching Desktop Flopped,” is an exploration of reasons why the Cube fared so poorly sales-wise.

The second, “Apple’s Cube Was Ahead of Its Time,” compares and contrasts the G4 Cube and the Mac Mini, exploring in particular why the Mini was successful when the Cube was not.

I’d like to thank my editor at Macworld, Philip Michaels, who always does an excellent job of distilling my work into crystal clear prose.

I Wanted One

On a personal note, when Apple announced the G4 Cube in 2000, I thought it was amazing and I immediately wanted one. Although I’d traditionally been a PC-clone user, I had been following Apple news closely since the return of Steve Jobs in 1996.

Of course, I couldn’t afford a Cube, so I simply pined away and read about others’ Cube experiences online. I remember the “cracks” issue being a fiasco in the news after the Cube’s release (one my articles discusses that issue), which seemed embarrassing for Apple.

Overall, I’m glad I didn’t buy one, because they were very expensive. I’m lucky I only had a credit card with a $200 limit (Amazingly low, isn’t it? That was just before banks started throwing high-APR credit at everyone and their brother. Now I can’t get them to stop raising my limit.) I still don’t own a Cube, so if anyone wants to donate one to the cause, I’d be willing to listen.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the articles. Feel free to share your G4 Cube memories below.

13 Responses to “The Apple G4 Cube Turns 10”

  1. SirPaul Says:

    While I don’t really care for Apple or its computers past the Apple II line, I did like the looks of the G4 cube, and wanted something similar as a PC. Even today, it still looks good. I just can’t believe it’s 10 years old now…

  2. BDD Says:

    When the Cube came out, I got ahold of the large poster-size brochure that Apple had put out, and drooled with a longing to own one. But just like you, Benj, I couldn’t afford one. I ended up buying a used Wallstreet Powerbook (I still own it) and a blue and white G3 as a desktop. The longing never left me over the next nine years, and even though I owned an upgraded 1.8 Ghz Digital Audio G4 (now decommissioned), I still wanted a Cube. Fortunately, they’ve become quite affordable over the past few years, and I was able to snag two of them for $160 on the Low End Mac swap list. One works great, the other is just for parts in case the working one dies. The working one now has 1.5 gb of RAM and a Geforce 5200, and runs OS X 10.4, 10.5, and OS 9.2.2. I have it connected to my network as a music and file server, with two large external hard drives in Firewire enclosures (the USB is too slow and unfortunately cannot be upgraded). Occasionally I get the bug to switch over the monitor and keyboard/mouse from my Macbook Pro to the Cube and use it as a desktop machine; especially to play some older games under 9.2.2. It’s quite an elegant machine and always brings me back to those times where Apple was fighting the wit and pluck fight to crawl out of the morass that they were in in the mid-late 90s, and wanting to be a part of it. Good times.

  3. Justin Says:

    I’m a PC guy. I despise Apple (blame Steve Jobs), but man, that thing is gorgeous. Apple does make beautiful looking products.

  4. Xyzzy Says:

    I seem to remember this as being the first Mac where people started paying really high prices for the brand/appearance… I never did understand that, but then again, I never understood the appeal in their designs! 🙂

  5. Moondog Says:

    It paved the way for Shuttle and the other small form factor pc makers that appeared a few years later.

  6. Daniel Says:

    I used to own a G4 Cube, and I still own a NeXT Cube. The G4 Cube was my entry into the Mac family, because I am a NeXT fan, and when I saw OS X I immediately wanted a Mac, specifically a Cube.

    This was after the G4 Cube was no longer for sale, but when I saw that OS X was the descendant of NeXTSTEP, I had to have one. I eventually located a store demo unit at a CompUSA some 3 hours from my house, and my father bought it for me.

    I eventually sold it and bought a lampshade iMac, which died, and I now have a Mac mini.

    I loved my G4 Cube. I hate that I sold it.

  7. Tony Says:

    I still have a G4 with the 17 inch display. The only problem I have is being able to upgrade it so I seldom use it as I have a new Imac and Macbook. If anyone is interested, you can refer them as I would like a good home for it.

    I also have an Apple 11c in its original box with an Image writer printer. Any collectors?

  8. mnky9800n Says:

    I remember when this came out and I had the promotional poster. I hung it on my wall and looked at it every night. I think it was during my teenage rebellion phase because I would call my father, who works for a large IT corporation, and describe how the cube was better than anything his IT corporation could produce. Some rebellious phase.

  9. Jack Stevens Says:

    In reply to tony i would be interested in his G4 Cube. Could he please email me at

    Its such a shame it was only sold for a year

  10. Mackie Says:

    Wow. Ten years have flown by. I was an extremely lucky, non-traditional college student in Texas trying to decide whether my very first computer would be a PC or a Mac. My art professor was a Mac user and an inspiring graphic design artist. He set me on the right path and my mother sent me an enormous gift–the money to buy the Apple of my eye–the gorgeous G4 Cube. I still own it in all it’s glory. I still love it. It has been a fantastic computer and a pleasure to look at for a decade. It just worked.

    A few years ago I bought a G5 iMac too, and we have a PowerBook, and I am considering selling my G4 Cube. It was so cool. I took it out of it’s original packaging and booted it up this afternoon. It is still cool. Still just works. Beautifully.

  11. Phyllis Says:

    I’m wondering if Tony and Mackie have sold their G4 Cubes. I’d be interested to buy at the right price. I’ve always thought it was the most beautiful computer ever made. It would surely find a good home with me!

  12. Phyllis Says:

    By the way, my email is

  13. Simon Says:

    I was in university at the time the cube came out. It looked snazzy as hell, but cost almost as much as a year’s tuition (so you can imagine I passed on buying it).

    I’d buy one now though since its pretty sleek looking, or at least the case.

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